Square Enix, GameArts Talk Grandia III
04.08.05 - 3:21 AM

During this year's entrance ceremony for the Digital Entertainment Academy, representatives from Square Enix and GameArts talked about their upcoming PlayStation 2 title Grandia III. After several speeches, including one by Square Enix president Youichi Wada during the actual ceremony, the focus of attention quickly shifted to the newest installment of the popular RPG series thereafter. Executive producer Yousuke Saitou (the head of Square Enix's 10th production team), producer Wataru Higuchi as well as GameArts Hidenobu Takahashi were at hand to talk about the game's development.

Takahashi noted that the planning for Grandia III had already began by the time Sony Computer Entertainment starting shipping the first PlayStation 2 units. The plan was to release the title once the hardware had entered the mature (later) part of its life cycle. Throughout the development process, the team apparently put a particular emphasis on the game's 3D graphics. Higuchi explained that while there were many games offering beautiful graphics, there were none which gave you the feeling of going on an adventure in the middle of nature. Hence, the aim from the very beginning was to create a really beautiful, natural environment. Takahashi acknowledged that coming up with a complete 3D engine capable of handling this difficult task proved to be the biggest challenge during Grandia III's development.

In addition to the visuals, Takahashi and his team also aimed to increase the quality of the title's story and direction, as he remarked that technology (translating to beautiful visuals) was important, but it was mandatory not to forget the fun factor. Then the trio debuted a playable demo of the game. After showing off some beautiful scenery, the battle mode was demonstrated. The game seems capable of switching into battle mode without any noticable loading time.

Battles are as fast-paced as in Grandia II, and now feature so-called Air Combos. By stating that fans won't have to think a lot about the command input scheme, but rather play Grandia III like a fighting game, Higuchi only confirmed the continued emphasis of action-oriented gameplay within the series.

Grandia III will be available in Japan sometime this summer.

Chris Winkler